Newcastle or Sunderland: Which IS the Bigger Club?

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Newcastle or Sunderland: Which IS the bigger club?

Ask this question in different parts of the North East and you will certainly get a different answer, with different ‘reasons’ to back it up. Newcastle and Sunderland fans argue over which club is the biggest in the North East and of course, there is always going to be bias when answering a question like this when it involves your own club and your biggest rivals.

We are going to look at a number of factors that could be indicators of ‘how big’ a football club is and compare Newcastle with Sunderland…


Two things to consider here – stadium capacity and also attendence figures, which are also an indicator of fan loyalty.

St James’ Park capacity = 52,405

Stadium of Light capacity = 49,000

Newcastle’s stadium is the forth largest club stadium in England and would likely have a higher capacity if it weren’t for the disputes with the council over further development. However, it is expected to be increased to around 60,000 in the coming years.

The Stadium of Light is a much newer ground, which due to its simple design, could easily be expanded to a capacity of 66,000. It is currently the 6th largest club stadium in England in terms of capacity.

Maximum capacity is all well and good but actual attendance should be considered as a much more important factor.

Premier_League_2014_2015_»_Attendance_»_Home_matches 2

St James’ Park average attendance in 2014/15 season = 50,359

Stadium of light average attendance in 2014/15 season = 43,157

Newcastle had the larger average attendance during the 2014/15 season, but they have a larger capacity ground so that is to be expected.

This next figure is the key determiner: average attendance as % of maximum capacity.

Newcastle’s average attendance in 2014/15 as a percentage of maximum capacity is: 96.10%

Sunderland’s average attendance in 2014/15 as a percentage of maximum capacity is: 88.10%

So there can be no doubt the winner in this category. Not only do Newcastle have a larger stadium, they also have a considerably higher average attendance both as an absolute figure and also as a percentage of maximum capacity.

Result: Newcastle 1 – 0 Sunderland

Fan Base:

The result from the stadium category also indicates that Newcastle has a stronger fan base but we will exclude the attendance figures from this section, as they have already been mentioned.

If we take a look at the social networks of each club (stats correct as of 18/03/16), we can get an idea of how popular the clubs are on a worldwide scale – not just here in the North East. A huge club like Barcelona will have a huge worldwide following on social media, so looking at this as a factor is certainly worthwhile.

Number of fans on the official Newcastle United Facebook page = 1,912,419

Number of fans on the official Sunderland AFC Facebook page = 1,348,235

Number of followers on the official Newcastle United Twitter page = 760k

Number of followers on the official Newcastle United Twitter page = 471k

Quite a big difference and once again the stats are in Newcastle’s favour.

Result: Newcastle 2 – 0 Sunderland

League Performance:

Both teams have nothing to shout about when it comes to league performance in recent years. Both have had a shaky start to the current campaign.

Here are the final league positions for both clubs over the past 5 years…


Newcastle league positions


Sunderland league positions


Newcastle’s average league position over the past 5 years: 12th (11.6 rounded up)

Sunderland’s average league position over the past 5 years: 14th

Newcastle’s average position over the past 5 years sees them as a mid-table club, although the 5th place finish in the 2011/12 season certainly helps them.



Sunderland on the other hand, have found themselves in a handful of relegation battles over the past few years and their win-less start to the current campaign will be a cause for further concern on Wearside.

Result: Newcastle 3 – 0 Sunderland

Cup Performance:

We will break this down into 3 sub- categories and once again look at the past 5 years.

FA Cup:

FA Cup comparison


It’s clear to see from the stats above that Sunderland have been more successful than Newcastle over the past 5 years in terms of progressing in the FA Cup.

League Cup:

League Cup comparison


Newcastle have gone further than Sunderland in the League Cup 3 times out of the past 5 years, but Sunderland’s League Cup Final appearance in 2013/14 means that they win this category.

European Cup Fixtures:

Following on from their 5th place league finish in 2011/12, Newcastle appeared in the Europa League the following season and managed to make it to the Quarter Finals. Sunderland on the other hand, have not played in a competitive European Cup competition for quite some time. As a result, Newcastle win this sub category.

Newcastle may have won the European sub-category for cup performance but Sunderland win the overall category, when looking at the past 5 years.

Result: Newcastle 3 – 1 Sunderland


At the end of the day it all comes down to the players on the pitch to get the results but deciding who has the better players is a harder task as it is subjective. Although there are some stats we can look at that could give us an indicator of which team is strongest, rather than relying on personal opinion.

International Players;

The current Newcastle squad has 18 players who have represented their country as a full international (i.e. not under 21 team).

The current Sunderland squad has 16 players who have represented their country as a full international (i.e. not under 21 team).

However, it must be also be noted that a significant number of the Sunderland players (Jermain Defoe, Younes Kaboul, Wes Brown and Jack Rodwell to name a few) received all their caps for their respective countries prior to signing for Sunderland.

With this in mind, it is important to note that Newcastle not only have more players in their team who have represented their country but also have a lot more who have played on the international stage whilst being at the club.

This also indicates that the internationals who play for Sunderland were at the peak of their game prior to continuing their club career at Wearside.

Result: Newcastle 4 – 1 Sunderland



This is an easy one with no explanation needed other than the image below…


Result: Newcastle 5 – 1 Sunderland (this score looks familiar?)

Overall Verdict:

Newcastle United is a far bigger club than Sunderland AFC.

5-1 in favour to Newcastle. Five different categories backed up with real statistics, with very little room for argument.

Let us know if you agree in the comment section below and don’t forget to take our poll…




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